3 Oklahoma teens charged after Australian player slain
In this undated photo provided by the Essendon Baseball Club, player Chris Lane wears his baseball equipment, in Australia. The Australian baseball player out for a jog in an Oklahoma neighborhood was shot and killed by three bored teenagers who decided to kill someone for fun, police said. Lane, who was visiting the town of Duncan where his girlfriend and her family lives, had passed a home where the boys were staying and that apparently led to him being gunned down at random, Police Chief Danny Ford said Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Essendon Baseball Club) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Sarah Harper,Christopher Lane's girlfriend, stands beside a memorial along the road where police say Lane, an Australian baseball player was shot and killed Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 by three bored teenagers who decided to kill someone for fun, in Duncan, Okla. Lane, who was visiting Duncan where Harper and her family lives, had jogged past a home where the boys were staying and that apparently led to him being gunned down at random, said Police Chief Danny Ford. (AP Photo/Kristi Easton)
A memorial to Christopher Lane is shown Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, along the road where he was shot and killed, in Duncan, Okla. Lane, an Australian who was on a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Ada, Okla., was in Duncan visiting his girlfriend, when he was shot and killed Friday, Aug. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Prosecutors filed charges against three teenagers yesterday after the police said the boys randomly targeted an Australian baseball player as he jogged and shot him in the back, killing him, to avoid the boredom of an Oklahoma summer day.
Christopher Lane, 22, of Melbourne, died Friday along a tree-lined road on the well-to-do north side of Duncan, Okla. Two teenagers, 15- and 16-year-olds from the gritty part of the town, were charged with first-degree murder and ordered held without bond.
A third, age 17, was accused of being an accessory after the fact and with driving a vehicle while a weapon was discharged. He said in open court “I pulled the trigger,” but the judge directed him to remain quiet and said yesterday was not the day to discuss the facts of the case.
The boy cried.
His bond was set at $1 million.
Duncan police Chief Dan Ford has said the boys had the simplest of motives – overcoming a boring end to their summer vacation. Ford said in a variety of interviews that the 17-year-old had told officers that they were bored and killed Lane for “the fun of it.”
Meanwhile, family and friends on two continents mourned Lane, who gave up pursuit of an Australian football career to pursue his passion for baseball, an American pastime. His girlfriend tearfully laid a cross at a streetside memorial in Duncan, while half a world away, an impromptu memorial grew at the home plate he protected as a catcher on his youth team.
“We just thought we’d leave it,” Sarah Harper said as she visited the memorial. “This is his final spot.”
Flowers, photos and an Australian flag already adorned the roadside in a tribute to the 22-year-old.
“I don’t know anybody who’s left this. It means a lot,” Harper said.
Lane played at East Central University in Ada, Okla., 85 miles east of Duncan, and had been visiting Harper and her parents after he and his girlfriend returned to the U.S. from Australia about a week ago. A former deputy prime minister in Australia called for a tourism boycott of the United States while Lane’s former clubs sought ways to honor their former teammate.
His old team in Essendon, Australia, scheduled a memorial game for Sunday to raise funds for Lane’s parents as they worked to have their boy’s remains sent home. The club said it would deliver notes of condolences sent to its headquarters.
At Essendon Catholic School, Lane will be remembered at a November Mass in which all former students who have died are mourned and celebrated, former school captain David Ireland told the Age newspaper in Melbourne.
“He was the sort of guy at school who everyone knew and knew quite well,” Ireland said of Lane. “He loved his footy (Australian football) and his sport and spent a lot of time with mates.”
Lane had attended St. Bernard’s College in Melbourne, where the principal at the time, Frank FitzGerald, criticized the violence in Lane’s death.
“I think the rest of the countries around the world just look at that country and shake their head,” FitzGerald told the Age. He said Lane could have had a promising career in his country’s football league “but he already had indicated that baseball was what he would concentrate on.”
Former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer criticized the National Rifle Association and asked Australians to avoid the U.S. as a way to force its Congress to act on gun control.
“Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice,” Fischer told the Herald Sun in Melbourne. “This is the bitter harvest and legacy of the policies of the NRA that even blocked background checks for people buying guns at gunshows. People should take this into account before going to the United States. I am deeply angry about this because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers (but) it’s a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA. There is a gun for almost every American.”